The onset of digitalization and information technologies has set a new stage for learners and educators alike. Today, addressing all learning preferences — on the spectrum of conventional in-person setting to digital online learning — remains a priority. Navigating this spectrum in a manner that takes advantage of both ends may be the ideal blended learning model for a contextual basis. Blended learning can include synchronous and asynchronous activities both online and offline.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused a global surge of demand for online learning. During this pandemic, my teaching responsibility shifted online in its entirety. I conducted lectures online synchronously assisted with communication, collaboration, and web-based classroom participation tools, i.e., Microsoft Teams and Presemo. I also recorded the lectures for students to flexibly engage with the content asynchronously. In addition to holding in-person exercises online, I was inherently compelled to hold at least one in-person exercise session offline when the university policy permitted it through special grounds under exceptional circumstances. This is because I believe that it is critical for learners to learn by doing and feeling through active experimentation and having concrete experiences (Kolb, 1984) in for example design-oriented problem-based learning (Savin-Baden, 2014).

Today, though the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions have been dismantled, I have continued to live-stream and record my lectures even though they are primarily held in-person offline. This is because the graduate-level curriculum can sometimes be overwhelming, and the positive impact of self-paced learning has been repeatedly highlighted in learner feedback and reflections.

I have been using the Kolb’s experiential theory (Kolb, 1984) to ground and underpin my teaching practices. This ensures that learners undergo all the necessary steps, i.e., having the actual experience (exposed to new knowledge), reflecting on the experience (expanding existing knowledge), learning from the experience (concept development), and experimenting what has been learned with hands on activities (accommodating in real-world).

Within the Open Network Learning course setting, I was intrigued to further learn about the community of inquiry framework that seeks to create profound learning experiences through cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence (Garrison et al., 2000). I found the instructional activities put forth by Fiock (2020) to be highly useful. The author outlined them as a function of community of inquiry framework presences and seven principles of good practice for the online environment.

The webinar on “Thriving Online in Higher Education” (Kay, 2023) had insightful suggestions on designing online courses with a strong focus on AI chatbot—ChatGPT. The speaker confirmed the validity of ChatGPT responses based on 15 years of personal experience — an advocation leading to the AI-empowered paradigm shift (Ouyang & Jiao, 2021). An interesting observation was the graduation rate of synchronous learning which was 95% as opposed to 55% for asynchronous at Ontario Tech University (MEd). A blend of both modes equipped with pedagogically underpinned ICT tools would be the way forward to thrive in today’s digital landscape.



Fiock, H. S. (2020). Designing a Community of Inquiry in Online Courses. In International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (Vol. 21).

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education.

Kay, R. (2023). (796) #ONL232 Topic 4 webinar with Dr. Robin Kay – YouTube.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Prentice-Hall.

Ouyang, F., & Jiao, P. (2021). Artificial intelligence in education: The three paradigms. Computers and Education: Artificial Intelligence, 2.

Savin-Baden, M. (2014). Using Problem-Based Learning: New Constellations for the 21st Century. The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 25(3 & 4), 197–219.


Towards an Ideal Blend